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Career Spotlights ~ Solicitor
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Basic Info
  • Hours: 37 per week
  • Starting salary: £16,650 + per year

If you are interested in the law and want a career in legal work, this job could be ideal for you. As a solicitor it would be your job to advise clients about the law, and act on their behalf in legal matters. Your clients could be individuals, groups of people or companies. There are different ways to become a solicitor and all involve academic and vocational training over several years

To be a solicitor you will need strong spoken and written communication skills. You will need to be able to analyse large amounts of information. You will also need confidence and the ability to work under pressure.

The Work

You could work as a solicitor in a range of settings including:

  • Private practice - providing legal services such as conveyancing, probate, civial and family law, litigation, personal injury and criminal law
  • Commercial practice - advising and acting for businesses in areas including contract law, tax, employment law and compnay sales and mergers
  • In-house legal advice for companies, the government or local authorities
  • Crown Prosecution Service - Examining evidence to decide whether to bring cases to court
Hours

You would normally work 37 hours a week, but longer hours are common. In some jobs you may be on call at weekends and bank holidays, or need to attend police stations at any time of the day or night.

You would mainly be based in an office, but may occasionally travel to visit clients or attend meetings. If you specialized in criminal law you would spend a lot of your time in court.

Income

Once qualified, salaries can rise to between £25,000 and £70,000 a year, depending on experience and the type of employer. Salaries for partners in large firms or heads of in-house legal departments can reach £100,000 a year or more.

Entry Requirements

There are currently three main ways to become a solicitor:

  • Complete a qualifying law degree followed by the Legal Practice Course (LPC)
  • Complete a non-law degree then take the Common Professional Examination (CPE) or Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) conversion course followed by the LPC
  • Complete the membership or fellowship route of the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx) while working in the legal profession - this route can be taken if you do not have a degree (see the Training and development section for more details)

To do a qualifying law degreem known as LLB, you will usually need at least five GCSE's (A*-C) and three A Levels with good grades. Alternative qualifications like an Access to Higher Education may be acceptable. Some Universities may also ask you to pass the National Admissions Test for Law (LNAT) before accepting you for a law degree.

Qualifying law degress will contain several foundation areas, including:

  • Criminal law and contract law
  • European Union law
  • Property law
  • Constitutional law and human rights

Once you have completed your law degree or CPE/GDL conversion course, you must then pass the Legal Practice Course (LPC). This normally takes one year full-time or two years part-time and covers a number of areas, including:

  • Business Law
  • Criminal and civil litigation
  • Probate
  • Professional Conduct
Skills and Knowledge

To become a solicitor you would need to have:

  • Strong spoken and written communication skills
  • The ability to absorb and analyse large amounts of information
  • A high level of accuracy and attention to detail
  • The ability to explain legal matters clearly to non-experts
  • Confidence and a persuasive manner
  • The ability to work under pressure and manage several cases at once
  • Tact and empathy
  • Respect for confidentiality
  • Skills with figures, if you deal with property and financial work

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